Home is where the blog is. Welcome!

A new year, new books and … a new home for The Paper Dragon. Well, perhaps a new birth is more appropriate.
See, me and blogging, we’re an odd couple. We tend to grow fond of each other, neglect each other for some months until we come together again. The thing is, with the previous Dragon, I was never really satisfied. I put a lot of time and effort into my writing, but still it never turned out quite the way I wanted it. After some digging, I found this little spot and it suits me better. Thus, out of the ashes of the old Dragon, this one is born. Which makes this sort of a Paper Phoenix!

Quick recap! Who am I? My name is Nick and I am a passionate reader and Fantasy lover in all – or most – of its forms. Foremost, I enjoy digesting my daily dose of wizards, witches, dragons and all that’s magical with my eyes through the wondrous art called reading. Aside from the bookish part, I don’t tend to turn down a nice fantasy-esque series (Game of Thrones, Heroes, Supernatural, …) or some gaming (Final Fantasy, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts …).
So on this blog you will find loads of book- and fantasy-related content. Think reviews, stuff that I am reading, random other bits and so on and so on.As my peers will confirm when you ask them, I like to talk about these things as well… A lot. Hence The Paper Dragon, for now I don’t have to stalk friends with – according to them – the random gushing about my latest read. I now have you, dear Reader, and you are most welcome to sit, read and comment away!

Review. Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

When it comes to reading a trilogy or series back to back, I suck. Big time. I like variety in my reading and thus will not pick up the next book in the series right after I read the previous one. This behaviour tends to get out of hand now and then, and other books just keep preventing me from reading on. Such was the case with Inkheart and Inkspell, cause there is exactly one year between these books. Seeing as I pretty much liked the first book despite some issues, I was eagerly looking forward to Inkspell. This book, however, did not put its spell on my in any way.

Although a year has passed, not a day goes by without Meggie thinking of INKHEART, the book whose characters became real. But for Dustfinger, the fire-eater brought into being from words, the need to return to the tale has become desperate. When he finds a crooked storyteller with the ability to read him back, Dustfinger leaves behind his young apprentice Farid and plunges into the medieval world of his past. Distraught, Farid goes in search of Meggie, and before long, both are caught inside the book, too. But the story is threatening to evolve in ways neither of them could ever have imagined.

The way Inkheart ended made it pretty clear that something was to come, still. But that something disappointed me quite a bit. The magical feeling that the first book exhumed, the novelty of it all, was missing here and I didn’t think the plot was as interesting as in Inkheart. To begin with, the villain here wasn’t Capricorn. He was just a shade of Capricorn and even though he was supposed to be bad, I never felt any threat coming from him. He just didn’t to it for me. Also, every time they came across trouble, they fixed it in the same way, by reading it right. After the umpteenth time, I felt like it was just a cheap way to get out of trouble and perhaps they should have read it completely right from the start instead of making things even more difficult. It’s just something that bugged me. The fact that this book didn’t really went anywhere near a solution also rubbed me the wrong way. Upon finishing Inkspell, I didn’t have any sense of closure and it felt like a very long introduction to what will be the last part in the story.
a very long introduction to what will be
It’s not all bad though, cause something that was missing from the first book, being the Inkworld itself, is more than present here. Whereas Inkheart was quite imaginative, here Funke outdoes herself. The Inkworld is just a beautiful world filled with the most imaginative creatures and I wouldn’t mind having a glass man for myself.
Inkspell also manages to give us a sense of who Dustfinger is. Here his character really gains some depth and his story becomes really gripping. He, however, is almost the only character that managed to get to me. Especially Meggie managed to get on my bad side even more. I mean, can she be even more dumb and brattish? I found it really hard to like her and felt like she needed to get slapped in the face and start acting a bit more responsible instead of rushing into danger every other page.
This book also introduced a bunch of new characters, but aside from Roxane, they didn’t inspire me to care for them. Another thing that bugged me was the character that turned out to be a traitor. When one turns out to have been on the other side all along, it’s supposed to be a shock to the characters as well as to the reader. However, that effect was radically reduced here because the traitor turned out to be some minor character who appeared only now and then. Can you say buzzkill?
get slapped in the face and start acting
As for the writing, it is still the same as the previous book. It’s beautifully written, but with too much description. I also felt that this book was way too big for the story and would have suited better if it was around 400 pages instead of the 700 it is.

Even though I had my issues with Inkheart, the overall experience was fairly positive, so I was looking forward to more of the same. Inkspell, however, turned out to be a little disappointing for me. I didn’t dislike it, but I felt like it could have been so much more. Still, I’m looking forward to the last book in the trilogy, cause that book will provide in some closure, a feat that Inkspell failed to accomplish completely by being a middle book in every sense.

★ ★ ★

Let the Inkworld bespell you.

Friday Face-Off | Better a witty fool than a foolish wit

What better way to start the weekend than with an Epic Battle of Books?! Every friday, different editions of the same book enter the ring *cue Tyra Banks* in the hopes of becoming Friday’s Fancy Front – a.k.a.: the best cover *exit Tyra*
This weekly meme is hosted by Books By Proxy who provides us with awesome themes with an even more awesome title. The previous themes have been relatively easy, don’t you think? But this week, however, I don’t know where to look for a book with a jester or a fool on the cover. I was already contemplating not posting a Friday Face-Off this week, when I suddenly realised that one of the most recent books I read featured a fool, and he was on the cover!

A couple of FFO’s ago, I aready did a Pratchett battle, so the diversity in the covers will be of no surprise to you all. My copy of the book – which is a great parody on MacBeth, for those who are interested! – is the very first one, the one with the actual fool on the cover. I think it’s once again a very funky and colourful edition and I really like this style of covers and how they all look so amazingly funny together. My favourite of these, though, is the very last one. The sleek, black and silver contrast is just beautiful and it’s even more beautiful in real life.
The middle two books, though, don’t do anything to me. The purple one is just meh and the third tries to imitate the first one, but isn’t bold enough in its execution and thus falls flatt in comparison to the hectic and crazy mess that is the first cover.
What’s your favourite here?

Top 5 Wednesday | Daddy issues..

Every Wednesday, people from all over the bookish world gather ’round to share their top 5 lists concerning whatever theme that week. All under the watchful eye of the Mother of all Top5’s, Lainey and hosted by Sam.
Last Sunday it was Father’s Day, so it’s only fitting that after a very motherly top 5, the dads in fiction are given the spotlight. Without further ado, let’s put those dads or fatherly figures on a pedestal.

5. Father (Neil Gaiman, Fortunately The Milk …)
If you have read this sweet little children’s book, you know why I included the father in my top 5. This father goes to unmeasurable lengths to provide milk for his children so they don’t have to pour orange juice over their cereal. On top of it all, he’s a great storyteller.
Who wouldn’t have wanted a dad like that, when they were still our heroes, those knights in shining armour?!

4. Michael Carpenter (Jim Butcher, The Dresden Files)
Another dad who will face it all to protect those he loves is Michael Carpenter from The Dresden Files. A Knight of the Cross, a crusader for God and Heaven, you’d best be on this father’s good side. And you better hope you never caue any harm to his children..

3. Arthur Weasly (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter)
While I think that Molly Weasly is the mother figure to beat them all, her significant other is less of a force. Still, this does not mean that you don’t have to count Arthur out of the father’s race. He might not be a knight in shining armour nor the bravest of them all, but he’s a dad with a heart of gold and a fatherly warmth to envy.

2. Burrich (Robin Hobb, Farseer)
Reading Robin Hobb is all about relationships, being twisted or right, they always make you cry. If I think about a bond between a child and a male adult, I can’t but think of the relationship between Fitz and Burrich. It’s awkward, it’s sometimes hard and painful, but it is full of love.. even though they might not always want to admit it.

1. Dumbledore (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter)
The most beautiful relationship that fits this theme, however, is the relationship between Dumbledore and Harry. If he isn’t a father figure for Harry, I don’t know who is. Also, the way Dumbledore administers Hogwarts, you can easily say that he is the father of every single one that roams the halls of the most magical place on Earth.

So there you have it, five literary dads to celebrate all dads out there. Who are your favourite father figures? Tell me in the comments!

Click here for a complete list of all the participants in T5W.

Review. Lee Battersby, The Corpse-Rat King

Allow me to start this review with a quote from Will & Grace.

Grace: I’m not mad. And I’ll tell you why I’m mad. Because I’m not mad!
Will: You’re not making any sense.
Grace: Oh and all of a sudden you’re the vice-president of things that make sense?
Will: Why vice-president?
Grace: Because Leo’s president. Deal with it.

This particular piece of dialogue – out of an episode that is absolutely hilarious – is not only pretty witty (even more so when you hear it in the context of the whole episode, I promise you), but it actually fitted my feelings upon finishing Lee Battersby’s The Corpse-Rat King very well. The Corpse-Rat King didn’t make that much sense in certain places, but it’s the kind of not-making-sense that just takes the book up a notch and makes it better than it would have been if it all made perfect sense. Do I still make sense?

Marius don Hellespont and his apprentice, Gerd, are professional looters of battlefields. When they stumble upon the corpse of the King of Scorby and Gerd is killed, Marius is mistaken for the monarch by one of the dead soldiers and is transported down to the Kingdom of the Dead.
Just like the living citizens, the dead need a King — after all, the King is God’s representative, and someone needs to remind God where they are.
And so it comes to pass that Marius is banished to the surface with one message: if he wants to recover his life he must find the dead a King. Which he fully intends to do.
Just as soon as he stops running away.

The blurb is an accurate description of the main plotline, and thus of the first few chapters of the book. When Marius actually starts running from the dead, it get’s crazy really fast. The main plotline is always pulsing in the background of the novel, but what’s on the surface is at times completely weird. It’s like a pearl necklace; the main plotline is the string that keeps every single pearl of craziness together. The best part is, it actually works really well! In terms of craziness, there is a clear progressive line to be found here. At first, it’s all quite calm, but steady as a beating drum, Marius finds himself in the most impossible situations. Three scenes that really stood out to me were the cardgame, the sunken ship and the tomb of kings, with the latter two fighting for the top spot on my best-scene-of-the-book list.
the surface is at times completely weird
Whenever I say that there is a lot of craziness and not that much sense going on here, I mean that in the best of ways. I think the best comparison I can come up with, is the kind of craziness that’s going on in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. There, as well as in The Corpse-Rat King, the main character finds himself/herself in the most absurd of situations, but it’s those situations that make the book just great. On top of that, Lee Battersby flavoured his novel with an interesting take on the dead.
The plot might be good, but if there are no memorable characters to carry it, it won’t bring you all that far. Luckily, Marius is able to carry the plot and he does it with style. The way he was portrayed fitted the character of the corpse-rat really well and I liked him quite a lot. And even though his sidekick Gerd was absent quite a lot, I kind of liked him too, especially the chemistry between both of them was just fun to read about. There are a lot of other characters, but they only make a cameo for a few chapters, only to never be seen again. Normally, I would mind, but surprisingly I don’t mind at all when it comes to this novel.
a lot of craziness and not that much sense
There’s something about Marius being alone – and running away from his quest – that worked really well here. Is he a character for the ages? No. In fact, after reading a couple other books, he might fade to the background of your memory. Not being memorable, however, does not mean he’s not fit for his role and as long as you’re in this world, you’ll enjoy him.
Another plus here is the writing. First of all, I felt like this book didn’t really took itself all to serious, which is a good thing. I always like it when a book isn’t pretending to be something more than it is and with The Corpse Rat-King, you get what you see. On top of that, Lee Battersby has a very nice and fluent way of writing, which made me able to breeze through the chapters whenever I had the time to read. Also, he was able to really bring across the voice and personality of Marius in a way I’d expected Marius to be.

Safe to say that, even though I bought this on a whim without knowing to much about it, I don’t regret reading it at all. If you’re into a light and hilariously fun and crazy read – and you’re not afraid of rotting flesh and talking corpses – I suggest you give this a try. I’m definitely looking forward to another novel from Lee Battersby’s pen.

★ ★ ★

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Friday Face-Off | All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter

What better way to start the weekend than with an Epic Battle of Books?! Every friday, different editions of the same book enter the ring *cue Tyra Banks* in the hopes of becoming Friday’s Fancy Front – a.k.a.: the best cover *exit Tyra*
This weekly meme is hosted by Books By Proxy who provides us with awesome themes with an even more awesome title. This week, it’s all about the bling bling on front. Covers with gold shining bright. The book I have for you, however, does not only have gold on the outside, but the words within are at least eighteen carats if not shining bright like diamonds in the sky.


I might have mentioned it in a couple of tags, but this trilogy – and Robin Hobb in general – is nothing short but brilliant. I read these some years ago after hearing people rave and rave about them and I can totally see why. Not only are they gorgeous books to read, but they look stunning on the shelf. I have every Hobb-book in the very first edition, the UK paperback with the animal on the front. Oh how I love those covers, cause when the sun shines upon them, they glimmer and shine so beautifully and the overall design of the book is just pretty. Imagine my disappointment when the most recent trilogy has shifted to the new covers. They are far from ugly, but I prefer the former.
The other two on the bottom, I don’t care about. If it were between them, I’d go for the first one again – I think this is the very first edition of the series – cause the one with the character is just so generic and plain and does nothing for the book at all.
What is your favourite?